When I was a kid back in the 1950s, Jell-O was just the thing. My mom would often serve us Jell-O for dessert, as well as Jell-O in our salads. I bet we had Jell-O several days out of every week.
When I went to school, the same thing happened. Jell-O was easy to make and keep, and we all liked it.
But those days have long been over for me. The last time I had Jell-O was more than 50 years ago. And now, when I look at my 75-year-old face in the mirror, I'm thinking that I should have eaten it more often.
That's because some startling new research is now showing that gelatin, the stuff that's in Jell-O, will literally put the skids on photo-aging.
Photo-aging is the process by which, over the course of time, ultraviolet light damages your skin.
The effects of photo-aging are particularly noticeable on the face and neck. That's because the skin there is thinner. The sun damages thinner skin more easily. Also face and neck skin gets exposed to much more ultraviolet light than does any other part of the body.
Photo-aging makes skin wrinkled, loose and crinkly, rough appearing, and spotted with pigments. How would you like to prevent that from happening?
Or if you're like me and it's a little too late, how would you like to prevent it from getting any worse?
It all has to do with something called collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It constitutes about one-third of the entire protein in the body and is the major component of the skin.
Collagen provides the tensile strength to skin, and keeps it firm, smooth, and high in water content. But alas, two things happen to us as we get older.
One is that due to a decrease in hormone production, especially growth hormone, our skin cells make less and less collagen. And the other is that the repeated exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light also causes the skin to make less collagen. The end result of all of this is wrinkles.
But one study says that eating Jell-O helps maintain a more youthful collagen levels as you get older.
Researchers at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology studied the effects of eating gelatin on skin repeatedly exposed to ultraviolet light. They took some hairless mice and divided them into three groups. One group received no ultraviolet light exposure. The second group received repeated exposures throughout the day in increasing intensities.
The third group had the same level of exposure as the second group, but in addition ate gelatin at .2 g/kg per day. This is a relatively small amount of gelatin, and only amounts to about a heaping tablespoon of gelatin per day for an average-sized adult. They conducted the study for six weeks.
Here's what they found.
The mice exposed to the ultraviolet light but did not receive the gelatin had a 53% average decrease in the collagen content of their skin compared to the mice who were not exposed. But the exposed mice that ate gelatin had no collagen decrease at all. In fact, they had an average increase in collagen of 17%.
Why is this? It's simple. Gelatin is made up of collagen. When you eat gelatin, the collagen in the gelatin goes into your bloodstream. This stimulates your body to start laying down more collagen. This collagen not only increases in our skin, but also in your bones, tendons, and muscles.
Eating gelatin has long been known as a folk remedy for weak fingernails and painful joints. Perhaps this is the mechanism. At any rate, from my perspective, it looks like eating gelatin might just be one of the most important anti-aging measures you can take.
You can buy gelatin at any grocery store. Let me suggest that you join me, and start taking a tablespoon in the morning, and another one before bedtime. Or eat some sugar-free Jell-O. What a tasty way to stop the aging process.
Tanaka M, Koyama Y, Nomura Y. Effects of collagen peptide ingestion on UV-B-induced skin damage. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Apr 23;73(4):930-2